If you spend enough time in downtown Junction City during the Scandinavian Festival, you are sure to run into the Vikings as they wander about. They are not typically shy and are always happy to pose with anyone who asks for a few photos. Last year we asked one of the Vikings, Rodskjegg, to tell us about Viking history. So he got together with the rest of the merry band of warriors to entertain crowds at the Archway Stage with some tall tales that, as of now, we have no way of actually verifying. But until we do we’ll repeat it for your enjoyment.
Since its history you’re looking for, we’ll start right here in our hometown of Junction City Oregon. I’m sure you’ve all heard that this area was settled by a group of Danes come out from the Midwest. The choir even sings a song that names the families listed on the county road known as Dane Lane. But what you haven’t heard is the real story about the original Scandinavian heritage of this area.
Now, everyone can remember their elementary school history about a fancy Spaniard who was the first European to set foot on this continent. But I and the rest of the Vikings would tell you that he stole that glory away from the great Leif Erickson, who was the true first European on the western continent. However, both stories end the same, with the glory hounds getting themselves led by the natives to the place we now call home.
But let’s begin at the beginning. Rodskjegg was a young Viking who had quested many times under Leif Erickson and knew well the routes to the west. One summer, when the weather was unusually hot, the ice above Greenland opened wide and called to the heart of the adventuresome red-bearded Viking who had just been given his first command. So he rounded up a crew of other Vikings who were unafraid of voyaging further west that any others had dared. Off they sailed; and though some said his quest was impossible, Rodskjegg’s resolve remained unshaken.
Many days into the voyage, a harsh arctic blast dropped the temperature by forty degrees. The ice closed around the boat and froze so fast that the men could nto pull it free. Amidst the barrage of “I told you so’s” and other woeful cries of doom, the crew suddenly began to notice that their fearless leader was nowhere to be found. Then came the accusations of abandonment, which lathered into a fury of mutinous rage, until one crewman spotted a glimpse of movement on the horizon. Closer came the hazy image and soon they could pick out the obvious color of Rodskjegg’s beard riding high. The men dropped their jaws in disbelief to see their captain ride up to the boat on the largest polar bear any of them had ever seen, followed closely by two more. Rodskjegg quickly lashed the beasts to the bow line and ordered all to pull. Soon the boat was free and skating upon the ice, with the bears pulling it forward. Finally, after miles of the terrifying race, the bears led the boat crashing back into the open ocean.
The men gave a great cheer for their captain, built a fire upon the deck to dry out, and soon sailed further west. Eventually the ice widened, the whiteness turned to gray and black as solid land rose up before them, curing south. Down the coast the mighty ship curised, the wind at its back, until Rodskjegg chose a wide-mouthed bay in which to enter this new land. The natives looked on in wonder as a ship like no other they had yet seen came to rest on a sandy bar. Finally, onto this sacred land leapt a fair-skinned, red-bearded man, who planted his flag right here on this very spot.
Rodskjegg made many trips back and forth from his home to here, until he finally made this his permanent home. He had many more adventures though, and I would be glad to tell you more of them later, but for now you can be proud that you know the true Scandinavian Heritage of Junction City.
We can’t wait to hear what tales the Vikings will have for us in the future. When you come to visit, please be sure to leave a comment or send us a message with our contact us page! To get our monthly email newsletter simply enter your email into the box in the sidebar, and check your email for confirmation.